Tag Archive for oregon

Review: 2015 A to Z Rose

The first time I had an A to Z wine, my husband and I were in Vegas. We were hungry, walking through Ceasar’s Palace and stopped at a restaurant that would take us right away. We weren’t in the mood to spend a lot, but wanted wine, so picked a Pinot Gris. It was from A to Z in Oregon and we were pleasantly surprised.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was in a grocery store hunting for a rose for one of our outdoor movie nights. I was trying to spend $12 or under and then what do I see but another A to Z wine, the 2015 Rose.

I popped this baby in the fridge as soon as we got home and enjoyed while we were watching “Big Trouble in Little China.” (Yes, both the movie and wine were crowd favorites, so much so I didn’t get a pic until most of the bottle was finished!)

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This dark rose is a bit tart up front, but an easy drinker. Lots of cherry, smooth finish, very juicy.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: A to Z Midnight Cellars
Type: Rose
Origin: Oregon
Vintage: 2015
Price: $10 (on sale)
Alcohol content: 13%
When to drink: Rose all day! Jk, jk. This one’s nice for sitting in a hammock as you race through a summer novel.

Wine in a can? Wine in paper bottles? What’s up with that?

For those of us who went to college in the past 10 years, we’ve had our fair share of wine in a box. Who can forget slap the bag? 

But wine in paper bottles and wine in cans? These are new and intriguing entries to the U.S. wine market.

First, the paper bottle:

It’s made by a U.K company called GreenBottle and the eco-friendly company’s first U.S. partner is California-based Truett-Hurst. Inside this interesting container will be Paperboy, a 2012 red blend from Paso Robles. What’s in the blend doesn’t seem to be portrayed on the bottle, but it does clock in at 14.5% alcohol and it’s coming to a Safeway stores soon. The paper bottle has already been used by Kingsland Wines on the other side of the pond. That winery used the label Thirsty Earth for its paper bottle wines, which included a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an Australian Shiraz.

Photo: thedieline.com

Photo: thedieline.com

Much like boxed wines, paper bottles are lined with a plastic bladder to hold the liquid. According to Fox News, you can put it in ice for up to three hours without the paper disintegrating. I feel like I need to test this out myself before believing that one. I don’t know how much it will cost, but once I figure that out, I’ll update.

Now, the can:

An Oregon winery has canned Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in 8 ounce containers! Union Wine Co., which cans the wine under the label Underwood, wanted to reverse the craft beer trend, where beer has been elevated out of Miller and Bud territory and into the world of tastings and fancy glasses, much like wine.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

Photo: Union Wine Co.

“We wanted to come up with a product that embodied our company’s philosophy of making great craft wine minus all the fuss,” Ryan Harms, owner of Union Wine Co., told Fast Company.“There is a ‘winification’ of beer trend going on and Union Wine Co. is at the forefront of a new trend, the ‘beerification’ of wine.”

It’s about taking the snobbery out of wine and making it more accessible, which seems to be the trend du jour. The cans even feature the Twitter hashtag #pinkiesdown.

They’ll be available next year; $5 for an 8-ounce can.

Top 5: Non-California, U.S. wine locales

I get a little California-centric when it comes to wines, mostly because they’re delicious and secondly because I live here. However, I’ve been learning a lot about other wine locales in the United States that are getting my continental travel bug rattled up.

Here’s my top 5 to-visit list for out-of-state wine regions:

1) Finger Lakes, NY

It’s Harvest season right now in the Finger Lakes, which is home to about 100 wineries, a third of the state of New York’s total. From all the Instagram photos and news stories I’ve seen about it, the Finger Lakes region seems pretty tantalizing, especially from a place that can put both Pinot Noir and Gewurtztraminer (I still can not pronounce the latter for the life of me) in my glass in one visit. And, I want to see those views in person and explore the many hiking trails. A camping trip with a few wineries squeezed in would be awesome if that’s a possibility.

2) Colorado’s Western slope

I’m torn because I want to visit the rockies during the winter to go skiing, but I also want to see the grapes on the western slope bask in the summer sun. Most of the vineyards here are family-owned, a big plus in my book if you plan to visit a site. Some also grow berries, which they let visitors pick!

3) Columbia Valley, Washington

Not only is this region home to Walla Walla–one of the most fun names for a city–but it also has roughly seven dozen wineries. That’s small compared to other regions and I hear you’ve got to plan in advance because often wineries are closed to the public without notice. On the other hand, that makes for a more intimate affair that often includes peeks behind the curtain when it comes to the winemaking process. I’ve seen Muscat, Cab Franc and other great grapes grow here.

4) Eugene, Oregon (more generally, Willamette Valley)

I’ve already been wine tasting in Eugene-twice, but I’d happily go a third time. The area is known for its pinots and I had the best Pinot Gris at Silvan Ridge Winery when I was there last. I have yet to hit up the big fish, King Estate, but Sweet Cheeks brings back fond memories of good food, good friends and good wine, and you can’t beat that!

5) Loudoun County, Virginia

Loudoun County is mostly on the list because I know I’ll get there soon: I have several friends who live a hop, skip and a jump away and a free place to stay makes for a happy visit. Rolling hills, estates and horse-riding trails make up this region, which hosts several weekend wine festivals. And then there’s the pretty wineries: good looks and good grapes, I’m sold.

Plus, as Leanne Wiberg (aka @craterlady on Twitter) of Doukenie Winery informed me: Virginia wines are made from French hybrids, such as Traminette, Chambourcin and chardonel. So it seems there’s still French roots in Thomas Jefferson’s home state, how apt. Jefferson was once the American miniser to Versailles after all.

I had no idea there was a big wine scene in Virginia when I lived in D.C. If I had, I would have taken advantage of it!

Where else outside of California, in the United States, is a stand-up place to go wine tasting?

Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Gris

I had never heard of Pinot Gris until I visited this girl in Eugene:

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I’m on the left, Ann’s on the right.

That’s Ann on the right, a great friend and Eugene wine ambassador. You see, when Ann was living in Eugene both times I visited she showed me amazing wineries. I had no idea there were even wineries in Eugene!

I also didn’t know about Pinot Gris until my most recent trip. But one sip of a glass of Pinot Gris from Silvan Ridge, and I was hooked. In fact, Oregon’s known for Pinot Gris.

I’ve even spread the gospel of Pinot Gris to friend’s this summer during visits to the Hollywood Bowl. I could never bring enough bottles of the varietal. It went quick!

OK, technically the two are the same grape variety. Now here come the stereotypes about taste:

  • Pinot Grigio tends to be lighter-bodied; Pinot Gris more full-bodied
  • Pinot Grigio tends to be fruitier–think pear and melon; some Pinot Gris have a spice kick

Now, I remember the Pinot Gris I had at Silvan Ridge being pretty soft. It was fruity, but not too fruity, and just felt like silk on the tongue. Full disclosure: it’s not a full Pinot Gris. It was 3% Viognier (the ones I’ve had have always been sweet and flowery), but that’s so little, whose counting?

Give me a glass of Pinot Gris (leave the bottle) and a cheese plate, maybe Manchengo and goat cheese, and I’m a happy camper.